CLOSING THE SEA by Yehudit Katzir


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The consequences of failed dreams movingly delineated--in this collection of four novellas by Israeli writer Katzir, now making her American debut. The protagonists are all Israeli young women, who narrate their tales of loss and despair in lyrical almost incantatory prose, fleshed out here and there with a bit of surrealism. In ""Schlaffstunde,"" a woman attending a family funeral sees a cousin, with whom in their childhood games she discovered sex and love one long-ago summer ""when the world was all gold and everything was possible and everything was about to happen."" Their solemn but improvised ""play"" marriage and first night had been interrupted, and their grandmother's death shortly thereafter ended their summers together--but she has never forgotten their pledges of love, nor what she felt for him. The narrator of ""Fellini's Shoes"" is a young, kindhearted waitress who--dreaming of being discovered--is briefly caught up in the unrealistic ambitions of an aging director who claims to be wearing the shoes Fellini once gave him. Sitting in the recovery room of a hospital, where her mother is a patient, a daughter poignantly recalls (in ""Disneyel"") her childhood, which had been shaped by the visits of Michael, the handsome and ebullient businessman her mother had loved, and she had also adored. The last piece, ""Closing the Sea,"" is the restrained but very moving story, told with perfect pitch, of a lonely 30-ish schoolteacher who takes the day off to see an old childhood friend, and finds that even her modest expectations of pleasure are doomed. At times the women's voices and their plights blur--all have been disappointed in one way or another--but Katzir's distinctive prose and fresh ways of telling more than compensate. A notable debut.

Pub Date: May 15th, 1992
Page count: 160pp
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich